A Window Into The Historical And Cultural Legacy Of The Mayan People
Located in central Quintana Roo, two hours south of Cancun, along the east coast of the peninsula near Tulum, Maya Ka’an is an eco-destination filled with jungle, coastal lagoons, and beautiful bays perfect for exploring by kayak. The region combines the nature of UNESCO World Heritage Site Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve with the Mayan communities.
Here, travelers can experience a taste of traditional Mayan life by interacting with local artisans and visiting some less-trodden archaeological sites like Muyil, home to the 56-foot-tall El Castillo pyramid, one of the tallest in the region.
A Wildlife Wonderland
The main draw to Maya Ka'an is the Sian Ka'an Biosphere, the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. Mayan for "origin of the sky," the reserve features a coastline dotted with tropical forests, mangroves, and marshes—a natural habitat for jaguars, pumas, ocelots, and tapirs. This part of Mexico is a true paradise and serves as a nesting ground for turtles, as well as sea and marshland birds, attracting more than 300 different species.
You'll also find the famous sinkhole cenotes, which you can tour while on a boat ride through the canals, along an ancient Mayan commerce route. Another way to take in the views of the jungle is by getting in the crystal-clear canals and floating through the mangroves. While the beaches here get less attention than those in Cancun or Playa del Carmen, you’ll still come across some stunning stretches of sand. In addition, don’t miss out on prime snorkeling in the world’s second-largest barrier reef, which is teeming with dolphins, turtles, and nearly 500 species of fish.
Experience the Culture
Don't miss the opportunity of doing a fishing trip in Punta Allen or the tiny fishing town of Punta Herrero, where visitors can dine on fresh seafood or set off on dolphin-watching or snorkeling trips.
Historic Felipe Carrillo Puerto, known as the “town of the warriors,” comprises around 66% of the Sian Ka’an Reserve, and its port was once a hiding place during the Caste War in the late-1800s. Here is where you’ll find sites like Casa de Cultura, a cultural center with exhibitions and workshops, and the Sanctuary of the Cruz Parlante, a shrine featuring a cross, which Mayans believed spoke and through it, their gods made them invincible. While you’re here, don’t miss sampling local cuisine like the chimole (a stew), relleno negro (black stuffing), salpicón de venado (salad of shredded venison), or the famous braised pork dish cochinita pibil.